Network Rail has awarded a contract to Costain to develop an improved warning technology that can help reduce the number of incidents at passive footpath and bridleway level crossings across the UK.
As part of the contract, Costain will work together with Network Rail to develop the technology, which has been named Meerkat.
First units of the technology are planned to be installed within the next year.
Costain has already started work on the design and development of Meerkat, which is expected to be installed across the UK over the next five years.
Once developed, the Meerkat device will be able to detect an oncoming train and provide an audible and visible warning to alert users.
Network Rail passenger and public safety head Allan Spence said: “This is an important project which will help further reduce level crossing risk across the network.
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“Meerkat will give users information on whether it is safe to cross and allow us to replace hundreds of Victorian ‘whistleboards’, helping line side neighbours, as well as improving safety.”
Currently, about five people are estimated to be killed at level crossings in the UK each year, with hundreds of people also reporting near misses.
Costain chief executive Andrew Wyllie said: “Maintaining safety on the rail network is an important focus and the award of this contract demonstrates how smart infrastructure solutions can help save lives.”
The company primarily provides smart infrastructure solutions to a number of customers within railway, highway, power, oil and gas industries.